Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Buttery

Joe Bennett makes the case for butter, as only he can.
Miss Turner, who was as old as it was possible to be and had a throat like a turkey, made us fish out our blobs and put them together. Whereupon she added salt, patted the whole into shape with a pair of wooden bats, and then made us sandwiches. It was the last time I enjoyed a science lesson and the only time I ate one.

But butter is even older than Miss Turner was. It's been discovered by every human society that's had the wit to steal milk from other mammals. Great cuisines are founded on butter. You can't make a croissant with low-fat spread. Every Indian dish starts with ghee. Deprive Tibetans of yak butter and they see no point in going on.

Butter is such an obvious good. To taste it is to know so. It enriches any sauce, any anything. I once compiled a list of foodstuffs that butter did not improve. Ice-cream was one, and I wondered whether cucumber was perhaps another. End of list.

Yet those of us who love butter have been out of step with the zeitgeist. By zeitgeist I mean the usual culprits in the dietary field, the harpies of health and wellbeing, the five-a-day fanatics, the officials of single-issue pseudo-medical lobby groups with names like the Society for the Healthy Heart, or Guardians of the Arteries. Who funds these people I don't know, but I do know that for decades they were as one in vilifying butter.

Butter kills, they said. It lodges in our workings and it stills our fluttering hearts. It blocks the blood, the brain, the organism. Shun butter or die, they said, and they went on to preach more virtuous diets. They praised the Italian diet of olive oil, pasta and organised crime, the Japanese diet of seaweed, rice and slavish devotion to authority, the diet of anywhere but where we were.

And people paid attention. They always do. It's vanity and fear of death. At the sight of a pat of butter the longevity freaks and Lycra narcissists leapt aboard their exercycles and pedalled away from it as fast as they could go.
He continues, noting that the end of the demonisation of butter has led to an unwelcome increase in its price. You should read the whole thing - it's fun.

And for more on the price of butter, and other grocery items, here's Aaron Schiff!


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